Custom Sort Unavailable

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Today’s Question: I have been processing photos from a recent trip to the Canadian Rockies in Lightroom CC. After completing the post processing, I tried to change the order of some of the photos in the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen. When I try, I get a screen that says, “The currently selected source does not support custom order. Cannot reorder photos.” I have changed the order of photos in the past, but don’t know what has changed. Can you help?

Tim’s Quick Answer: In order to apply a custom sort order in Lightroom, you need to be browsing a single folder or a “normal” collection. You can’t be viewing the contents of multiple folders, and you can’t sort in a custom order when browsing a smart collection.

More Detail: Lightroom enables you to define a custom sort order for any individual folder or “normal” collection, simply by dragging and dropping the thumbnails into the desired order on the filmstrip or in the grid view. You can then return to the custom sort order later, after changing the sort order to another option. This can be done by choosing the “Custom Order” option from the Sort popup on the toolbar below the grid view display.

However, the custom sort order is only available for an individual folder or for a “normal” collection.

You can’t use the custom sort order for the collections found in the Catalog section toward the top of the left panel in the Library module. You also can’t use a custom sort order for a smart collection. If you have selected multiple folders from the Folders list, or if you are browsing images from subfolders in addition to the current folder, you also won’t be able to use the custom sort order. That means you may want to turn off the “Show Photos in Subfolders” option found on the Library menu on the menu bar. You also can’t select multiple collections at one time if you want to sort in a custom order.

So, the key is to make sure you are only browsing a single folder or “normal” collection (not a smart collection), and that you aren’t browsing images from more than one source location.